6 Better Birthing PositionsKatlyn Joy |12, November 2012
When giving birth, you may want to become familiar with as many different birthing positions as you can. It's believed that women who switch positions throughout labor tend to have shorter and easier deliveries. Also, using positions that best utilize gravity will alleviate problems in labor such as episiotomies, failure to progress and C-sections. You may also want to use one position during labor and another for the actual delivery.
Although it's acknowledged that positions that use gravity are best, women actually give birth in the lithotomy position more than half the time. This position is where a woman is on her back with legs pulled back. More than one-third of the time women give birth in a semi-sitting position or propped up position. Only fewer than 10 percent use a side-lying, squatting, or alternative position for birth.
Here are some positions to try and some special considerations for each:
1. Side-lying or lateral position.
Women may use the hospital side rails for support or a support person may hold the upper leg. This position isn't as useful during early labor as gravity doesn't play a big role, however if labor is too rapid it may allow things to progress at a more optimal speed. If a women is tired, or if labor has dragged on, this position requires less muscle. Also it's good for women who have had an epidural or who have high blood pressure. It helps get oxygen to the baby too. Try during the second stage of labor and know that this position lowers the risk of lacerations during birth.
2. Squatting position.
This position takes advantage of gravity and also better allows for rotation of the baby. It also widens the pelvic outlet by as much as two centimeters. This position can be tiring to mother however so you may want to alternate between this and another more supported position. This position is also good for baby, as it allows for good fetal circulation. Squatting lowers the risk of forcep delivery and speeds second stage of labor. You can use a squatting bar or a labor partner for support and to steady you.
A sitting position is a good one for longer labors or for resting during labor as you will still take advantage of gravity. You can also use a sitting position even if you've had an epidural and you may even be able to sit on a birthing ball. Many birthing suites have a rocking chair available to you to use for both before and after birth. This position can help baby get properly settled into the birth canal. It may not be advised if mom is hypertensive.
4. Hands and knees.
While it may look a bit more unusual, this stance can be a lifesaver for women suffering through the discomforts of back labor. It is also a recommended position for larger than average babies, for mothers with hemorrhoids, helping turn a posterior baby, for babies with low heartbeats, and for shoulder dystocia.
5. Standing position.
This position definitely takes advantage of gravity's pull, and can be used in any stage of labor. It allows for birth attendant and labor partner to provide much support and can be tweaked by leaning over onto the bed, a rail or on a person, you can walk between contractions, bend over or stand and deliver with a wide stance. This position helps baby get into proper birth position as well.
When mom is in a kneeling position, she is able to use the motion of pelvic rocking and it can help turn a posterior baby. This position uses gravity but allows for mothers to rest more efficiently and keeps pressure off arms or wrists.
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